We spoke to three-time best selling author and food & wellness expert Jasmine Hemsley as she tells us about her beloved doggies, Julie, Mr Bims and Arji.
What have you been working on during lockdown?
“Lots of work online! As soon as lockdown was announced, my diary completely cleared so I have been channeling all of the talks, workshops and events I’d normally do in person into online events mostly on my Instagram @jasminehemsley.
On Wednesdays, I host my “Wellness Wednesday Workshops” where a guest joins me for a hands-on, practical Instagram Live, taking viewers through a wellness practice. So far we’ve had guests including Tara Stiles who did a yoga flow, Lina Khalifeh with a self-defense demo and Richie Bostock who did a breathwork class. On Sundays, it’s “Sunday Slow,” which is a guest talk on ancient wisdom — guests so far have included Susan Chen, Sarah Wilson and Megan Monahan.
During the week, I’ve been doing mini lunchtime sound baths to help everyone relax and unwind during this unusual and uncertain time. I’ve also been doing recipe videos, weekly newsletters and lots more. So in essence, there’s still been a lot going on!”
Tell us about your three lovely dogs, Julie, Mr Bims and Arji?
“Julie is 5 years old and our first dog. Nick grew up with cats so it took quite a lot of convincing to get a dog! I knew he’d shown an interest in border terriers so I found a litter of border terrier Jack Russells — we went there looking for a boy and came home with our first love, the runt of the litter: little Julie.
Arji and Mr Bims are brothers (although they don’t look that much alike!) that we found on the streets of Hyderabad in India when we were there for an extended period of time researching and studying more about Ayurveda for my book, East by West.
At around five months old, they were close to death’s door, extremely emaciated and had been attacked by both other dogs and people. Bims was protecting Arj from other dogs in the neighbourhood, which broke our hearts! Over the course of our six week stay in the area, we built up their trust and nursed them back to health. When it came to the time of our departure we realised that, left alone, they would most likely not make it, so after much organisation, we managed to bring them back with us!”
Have they been good companions over lockdown?
“The best! I think they have loved us being here all day, every day as well — from morning Qi Gong to our late night walk in the parks in the last of the daylight. It’s always comical working on the laptop with a dog on each side and one trying to get on your lap!”
If you could describe them each in three words, what would you say?
“Vata, Pitta, Kapha! These are the three energies in Ayurveda used to describe the world around us — each made up of two of the five elements, space and air, fire and water, and water and earth respectively. I realised when writing my book East by West (a cookbook and introduction to Ayurveda, the ancient health philosophy from India, and its principles) that my dogs were each dominant in one of the three doshas!
Julie the terrier is fast, yappy and ball crazy and wants to be everywhere all the time — she’s prone to being anxious and overstimulated (Vata). Arji is hot, itchy, bossy and usually too big for his boots, he wants to pull you when we walk, he’s upfront and though he likes to cuddle, gets hot and bothered easily (Pitta). Mr Bims is super chill and likes routine, he follows the sun in our house like clockwork, is the first to get ready for meal times and walks, and rarely fusses about anything, waiting patiently to be let in the back door and gently holding up a paw or giving you puppy dog eyes (Kapha).
If he wants a cuddle, it’s a look that everyone falls in love with. He’s only animated when it comes to food and foxes and doesn’t risk getting wet or cold for anything. He can sunbathe forever and takes about ten minutes to make his bed just right — then stays in it for hours on end.”
Do they travel with you and if so where?
“Julie goes everywhere with us! She’s pretty compact and super well behaved (unless there is a ball). She loves travel and kids! She’s a London Underground commuter and always tries to predict which Tube door might open and is embarrassed when she gets it wrong. She lies across other people when we’re on trains and Tubes and — fingers crossed — so far, they’ve all been delighted.
Our boys from India aren’t great with new places and faces, but they do love their twice-yearly trips to Devon where Nick grew up — the first time they felt a sandy beach under their paws, they went wild! They love having open spaces to run in so we try to get to parks and beaches at quiet times so that they feel relaxed enough to play. Arji likes to chase incoming waves, Mr Bims likes to inspect EVERY tree or potential wee spot and really take his time deciding where to go — we say he’s reading the papers.”
What are their favourite parks, etc and other places?
“They love our local park, Beckenham Place Park, and also our friend’s Christmas tree forest in Hayes. They also love the wilds of Dartmoor; we have been on some epic walks there.”
If you were going to take him on a dog-friendly holiday, where would you go?
“As Arji and Mr Bims are still quite nervous rescues, it would be somewhere in nature where they can feel relaxed. We have actually booked a weekend in Cornwall at (dog-friendly) Watergate Bay Hotel which is on Nick’s favourite surf beach. The beach is huge and there are endless cliff top walks away from too many people, which is actually really nice for us too, given how hectic our day jobs are.”
Any strong views on pet welfare that you’d like to share?
“On account of their start in life and our passion for wellness and food we wanted to boost all our dogs’ health as much as possible. We have found that a raw food diet combined with probiotics has worked wonders and as a bonus, their poos don’t stink! We also use a homeopathic vet who has been amazing with a natural approach to the dogs’ wellbeing and managing any reactive behaviour that occurs on account of Arji and Mr Bims’s tough start in life.
After much research we’ve also always elected to use dog trainers who have a holistic approach. We went through quite a few as our dogs had some really specific needs, but Oli Juste and Carly Stewart have been amazing — ultimately they train us to learn the subtleties of dog language, which has been so rewarding in building our bond with our furry friends.
After witnessing our boys’ start in life I’m a huge believer in ‘adopt don’t shop’ and am so proud to support Nikki and the team’s wonderful work at the Wild at Heart Foundation where they not only rescue dogs but help to place them in their perfect homes.”